We Got The Beat
Lugging a huge red accordion, in the confines of a grey-plaid case, in 1956 through the streets in St.Paul, Minnesota, and waiting at a bus-stop every Saturday to go for music lessons, seemed like a dream come true for this ten-year-old. In reality, I would have preferred playing the piano; however, money was an issue, along with having just moved to St. Paul and living in a crappy apartment. It just wasn’t feasible.
Within months came time to show off my skills in the first recital of my life. I played ‘Three Blind Mice’ in front of a crowd bigger than I had expected and a record was produced. The one awesome thing about it … not a flaw in my presentation. And I had a record to remember my performance when we moved back to Canada.
Mother drove my brother and I to lessons from anywhere from eighteen to sixty miles. It all depended on who was offering the private lessons. A couple of years later, I didn’t want to take lessons any longer. My mom didn’t like the idea, but she agreed under one condition that I practice daily.
That’s when I actually became more creative in the sense that I began to play by ear. Father played the fiddle and he played his old-time music at dances. One time we went to a school dance out in the country and a friend of his was playing. It was a trio made up of a father and his two daughters. The father happened to be a friend of my Father’s. I think it was all a ploy but it worked. It was then my brain jumped into gear. If only I could play like these girls. The music was good and everyone had a great time dancing to polka’s, waltzes, schottisches, and fox-trots. Soon after, we formed a band and played for a couple of years until I moved away from home.
Our greatest admirer was my mother. She would sit by us and clap her hands, or danced with whomever would ask her. In June of 1999, we got together in my brother’s basement to practice for possibly the last time. It was the most difficult thing I had to do knowing that my father had liver cancer and it would probably be our last time playing together. Three months later he passed away. Now all I have are the memories of the tunes we played together. Every once in a while, a different song pops up in my mind, and I imagine how I could have added a bit more pizzazz to certain tunes.